House, Senate call for each other to give way on farm bill

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

On the same day a bipartisan bloc of senators called for speedy passage of the long-overdue U.S. farm bill, House and Senate negotiators blamed each other for a stalemate on how to cut crop subsidy spending by one-third.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, meanwhile, warned that there was no alternative to enacting a new five-year law, such as passing a temporary extension.

Milk prices in U.S. grocery stores could double in January without a new bill, since without reauthorization U.S. farm policy would revert to the provisions of the last "permanent" farm bill, the Agriculture Act of 1949.

Negotiators are deadlocked on the size of potential cuts in food stamps for the poor, the largest U.S. anti-hunger program and the bulk of USDA's spending.

All the same, an agreement on crop subsidies is the linchpin to passing the farm bill.

"We're very close. There are only a few differences but they are significant," Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, adding that the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee must improve their "unacceptable" offer.

In reply, the House negotiators said they were waiting for a "balanced offer" from the Senate.

The House and Senate farm bills would cut crop subsidy spending by one-third, or roughly $20 billion, over 10 years. But they disagree sharply over how far to go in reforming the network of farm supports that date from the Great Depression.

SKIP THE HASSLE, USE OUR BILL, SAY SENATORS

A group of 33 senators signed a letter to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell saying passage of a new farm bill as soon as possible is vital and the solution is to enact the Senate-passed bill.

"Accordingly, we urge you to considering folding the Senate's strong bipartisan bill in any end-of-year package," the letter said.

Agricultural leaders in Congress say proposed farm bill cuts, ranging from $23 billion to $35 billion, could be part of a deficit-reduction package to avert the "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts next month.

"They should be working 24/7 until they get a resolution," said Vilsack to reporters. "And then hope there is a (legislative) vehicle it can be attached to. That train could leave the station any day, at any moment."

Aides to Stabenow said there was no work on their side to prepare a stopgap bill to keep farm programs running until a five-year bill is passed. Vilsack also said an extension of the now-expired 2008 farm law was unlikely.

A POLICY DISPUTE AND A REGIONAL FIGHT

In part, the Senate-House deadlock is a dispute over how to revamp U.S. farm supports for an era of volatile market prices and tight supplies. It has elements of a regional dispute between the corn- and soybean-growing Midwest and the South, home to cotton, rice and peanuts.

Southerners say the Senate bill favors the Midwest with its plan to compensate growers when crop revenue is below average, and that insurance-like programs are ill-suited to their crops. Midwestern groups say the House bill allows unduly high supports for Southern crops and would put them at a disadvantage.

Stabenow said the Senate offered 75 percent of the spending on wheat, peanuts and rice that was demanded by the House. "We have done everything we can," she said after meeting committee members privately to discuss the negotiations.

In a joint statement, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the Democratic leader on the panel, said "this is not a rice, peanut, and wheat issue. Rather, it's about making sure policy is defensible to taxpayers and works for all commodities in all regions of the country."

Also on Thursday, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran indicated he may try to replace Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts as the Republican leader on the Agriculture Committee in 2013. Roberts was a strong backer of the Senate-passed farm bill.


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (2) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

Kathy Woodyard    
Ohio  |  December, 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM

NO MONSANTO FREE RID ON THIS BILL!!!!!

steve    
north east  |  December, 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM

How many dairy farmers want supply management? If what I have been told, less than 40% will participate. So 60% of dairy farmers will have no safety net. The people pushing this policy have never asked the average dairy farmer what they want. Their attitude is we are smarter than you so be quiet and leave it to us.


Kinze 1500 Grain Cart

The Kinze 1500 Grain Cart is engineered for speed and reliability required of custom harvesters. Load up to 1500 bushels ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form